It was a preseason exhibition game, so Siena head coach Carm Maciariello enjoyed the opportunity to sit a little bit and direct action from the bench, pressure-free, instead of frenetically stalking the sideline.
There actually were fans in the stands, so Saint Rose head coach Mike Perno enjoyed the opportunity to lose his voice.
The final score shows the Saints defeated the Golden Knights 77-70 on Monday night in front of a crowd of 4,770 at the Times Union Center, but both teams got what they wanted, a chance to bang heads and elevate the competition beyond what they see in practice every day.
For Siena, it was a first look at what a roster that experienced substantial turnover in the offseason might offer, albeit while some players were held out of the game as they approach full recovery from injuries.
And because the game was close all the way, the Saints were forced to treat the closing moments as something more than the garbage time you might typically see when a Division I team faces a Division II team. Postgrad guard Nick Hopkins led Siena with 20 points, including 5 of 6 free throws in the final 38.6 seconds, as Saint Rose threw a fullcourt press at the Saints.
“This isn’t a finished product, but I’m happy with these guys’ resolve, and we were able to get into some late-game execution, execute out of timeouts, we were able to get baskets when we needed and guys took the coaching and understood what needed to be done,” Maciariello said.
“Would I have liked winning by a bigger margin? I don’t know if these guys are getting anything out of that.”
Aidan Carpenter scored 15 points for the Saints, and Jackson Stormo had 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Fifth-year senior Adam Anderson, a Saratoga Springs High graduate, led Saint Rose with 16 points, and former Schalmont High star Shane O’Dell scored 15, 13 of which came in the first half. O’Dell’s mother, Val (nee Higgins), was the MAAC women’s basketball Player of the Year for Siena in 1991 and is in the Siena athletic hall of fame.
“Yeah, she was excited for the game,” Shane O’Dell said with a chuckle.
So was the rest of the crowd, which was denied attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Siena still played a full 2020-21 season, while Saint Rose shut down its season after just seven games because of the pandemic.
The Saints faithful returned on Monday to a starting lineup that included Stormo, Hopkins, Carpenter, Colby Rogers and Jordan Kellier.
Anthony Gaines, a transfer from Northwestern who is expected to get significant playing time, sat out the exhibition after rolling his ankle in practice, and Siena was also without freshmen Taihland Owens and Javian McCollum, and senior transfer Jayce Johnson.
“We don’t have a starting lineup yet,” Maciariello said. “We wanted to be cautious with them and not throw them into the fire where they’re trying to do things that maybe their bodies aren’t ready to do. But they’re on the mend and should be cleared at any time.
“I hope I can have 12 guys that score eight points a game. Balance is key. Jackson struggled a little bit. He got sped up. But these guys are all still getting used to playing in front of fans.”
“Last year, we had to find our energy from ourselves, constantly talking to each other and building from the bench,” Hopkins said. “The bench was our main support. Now, with the fans here, it gives extra flair to it, if that makes sense.”
Saint Rose used a 9-0 run to go ahead 51-45 six minutes into the second half, and still led, 57-52, midway through the half before Siena made its run.
Hopkins punctuated an 11-0 run with a three-pointer to put the Saints up 63-57, and Siena got its running game going off some steals by Carpenter and freshman Jared Billups.
“We work on getting the ball up and getting in passing lanes,” Carpenter said. “That’s just a product of what we work on in practice.”
“Overall, there were flashes of execution, flashes of how we want to play in transition,” Maciariello said. “And there’s a fine line between being able to play fast and understanding when to play fast, and when to get a good shot and play with some poise. The idea of playing fast sounds good, but then you’ve got to do it all the time.”
“We went toe-to-toe with a team that’s in the MAAC,” Perno said. “One of my biggest concerns was the physicality of the game, and I thought we had things going there, then with about eight minutes left, we had some guys come up with some cramps, and some other guys starting to get fatigued. We kind of ran out of juice at the end.
“If you look at the stats, it was basically even in every category. I thought the eight free throws we left out there was the difference in the game, combined with them scoring 31 points off our mistakes.”
“We handled it well. We weren’t intimidated,” O’Dell said. “We just played like how we play every game. Just missed two many free throws, missed a lot of layups and turned the ball over too much.”
SAINT ROSE (70)
Fleming 2-5 3-4 7, McGettigan 4-13 0-0 9, Alexander 3-11 2-3 9, Anderson 6-11 1-3 16, O’Dell 7-14 0-2 15, Bowman 3-4 1-2 7, Lynch 2-4 2-3 7, Zoller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-63 9-17 70.
Stormo 3-8 1-2 7, Hopkins 6-11 5-6 20, Rogers 3-8 0-0 8, Kellier 1-6 3-3 5, Carpenter 6-13 2-2 15, Billups 2-5 2-2 7, Mahala 0-0 3-3 3, Tertsea 0-1 0-0 0, Baer 6-9 0-2 12.
Halftime: Siena 39, Saint Rose 35. Three-point goals: Saint Rose 7-19 (McGettigan 1-4, Alexander 1-6, Anderson 3-5, O’Dell 1-2, Lynch 1-1, Zoller 0-1); Siena 7-23 (Stormo 0-2, Hopkins 3-7, Rogers 2-6, Kellier 0-2, Carpenter 1-4, Billups 1-2). Rebounds: Saint Rose 37 (Fleming 9); Siena 39 (Stormo 10). Assists: Saint Rose 10 (Alexander 5); Siena 11 (Hopkins, Carpenter, Billups, Mahala 2). Total fouls: Saint Rose 17; Siena 14. Attendance: 4,770.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]